In conceptual art the idea or difference between multimedia and intermedia is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. The French artist Marcel Duchamp paved the way for the conceptualists, providing them with examples of prototypically conceptual works — the readymades, for instance.
In 1956 the founder of Lettrism, Isidore Isou, developed the notion of a work of art which, by its very nature, could never be created in reality, but which could nevertheless provide aesthetic rewards by being contemplated intellectually. In 1961 the term “concept art”, coined by the artist Henry Flynt in his article bearing the term as its title, appeared in a proto-Fluxus publication An Anthology of Chance Operations. Conceptual art emerged as a movement during the 1960s – in part as a reaction against formalism as then articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg. Some have argued that conceptual art continued this “dematerialization” of art by removing the need for objects altogether, while others, including many of the artists themselves, saw conceptual art as a radical break with Greenberg’s kind of formalist Modernism. Later artists continued to share a preference for art to be self-critical, as well as a distaste for illusion. Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2005.
Language was a central concern for the first wave of conceptual artists of the 1960s and early 1970s. The American art historian Edward A. Shanken points to the example of Roy Ascott who “powerfully demonstrates the significant intersections between conceptual art and art-and-technology, exploding the conventional autonomy of these art-historical categories. An Oak Tree by Michael Craig-Martin. Language were able to sweep aside the vestiges of authorial presence manifested by formal invention and the handling of materials.
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An important difference between conceptual art and more “traditional” forms of art-making goes to the question of artistic skill. Although skill in the handling of traditional media often plays little role in conceptual art, it is difficult to argue that no skill is required to make conceptual works, or that skill is always absent from them. The first wave of the “conceptual art” movement extended from approximately 1967 to 1978. Early “concept” artists like Henry Flynt, Robert Morris, and Ray Johnson influenced the later, widely accepted movement of conceptual art. Many of the concerns of the conceptual art movement have been taken up by contemporary artists.
Jacek Tylicki, Stone sculpture, Give If You Can – Take If You Have To. 1917 : Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, described in an article in The Independent as the invention of conceptual art. 1953 : Robert Rauschenberg creates Erased De Kooning Drawing, a drawing by Willem de Kooning which Rauschenberg erased. Klein also exhibited ‘One Minute Fire Painting’ which was a blue panel into which 16 firecrackers were set. The theater is on the street. 1960: Yves Klein’s action called A Leap Into The Void, in which he attempts to fly by leaping out of a window.